God is gracious.
He is kind and merciful.
This verse above, Psalm 45:1, was shared with me recently by a dear friend. She said that it reminded her of me. And I will say that this verse has been pulsing through my mind, my feet and my fingers today as I’ve enjoyed time alone with my God, as I’ve explored the Hermosa Beach, CA area and as I’ve sat on my balcony and written page after page. My tongue has not been like the pen of a ready scribe—because I never can quite say what my mind wants to say—but the words have flowed freely across empty pages today as I’ve addressed my verses to my King–to my God.
Those of you who have been faithful to read here, and those of you who know my the story of my crew and my life, know the tremendous grief and struggle we have experienced. Some of it—dare I say, much of it–has been brought on by myself as I’ve wrestled and doubted faith and God. And, unfortunately, I know I will continue to fight that battle in my life. But some of it has been brought on just by, well, life. Sin. Heartache.
Life is hard. We each experience difficult trials. Deep abiding grief. We each suffer the consequences of sin–both of our own and of others. And we fight for survival. We fight to push forward. We fight to stand fast. (1 Thessalonians 3:8)
But sometimes, in our self-centered world (I am speaking about myself, not anyone else) we become so blinded by the pain and the fear and the struggle, that we miss the blessings. That we miss the gifts. That I miss what is in front of me.
You may say “That’s easy for you to say, Shelly, because you are sitting out in California today with an entire day to yourself.” And you would be right. I’ve been given a tremendous gift today of Sabbath. Of time devoted solely to rest, solely to communication with God, solely to prayer and writing and–yes–sleep. Deep sleep. Uninterrupted sleep, a rarity for me.
But will the praise flow so easily from my pen when I return late tomorrow night, only to start another round of intense work, intense parenting, intense living and surviving? Will Psalm 45:1 be true, even then? Even when I am scared, even when the bills are mounting, even when parenting is a challenge?
I don’t know. I hope so. But I know myself. I know how prone I am to sink into self-pity and forget to see who God is. To see how incredibly, amazingly blessed I am. I have a job that allows me to almost make ends meet, and what ends don’t meet, God continually provides. I have four amazing kids who love God, love me and love each other. And I have a world full of friends—friends that I count as family. I am blessed.
In my exploration of Hermosa Beach this morning, I found a used “Friends of the Library” book sale in a little Hole-in-the-wall. Un-air-conditioned and crowded, but I couldn’t help but peruse the shelves. 50 cents for paperbooks, $1.00 for hardbacks. (My suitcase will certainly be a lot closer to 50 pounds when I head back East). One of my finds was a copy of C.S. Lewis’ books “Surprised by Joy”.
Yes, I already have a copy of that book. In fact, I’ve probably bought that book at least 5 times in the past few years as I’ve bought it and given it away to people that I knew “just had to read it.” And I know I have a copy at home. But I went ahead and bought this beat up copy from this Beach Sabbath Oasis that God has granted me. Why would I buy a book that I already own, you might ask?
Well, it’s because I want a reminder. You see, this is one of the very first books that I read, that led me to consider that there was a God. And I want to be reminded of that again. I want a reminder of this weekend that that same God has so graciously gifted me with. I want a reminder to be “Surprised by Joy” all over again, when I get back home and I’m tempted to doubt, tempted to not see the abundance of blessings that God has poured out on me and my crew. I want a reminder that on those days when I struggle and fight against despair, that there is hope. And there is joy. And that I must continue to fight.
And, for today—“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme…”—the theme of Sabbath rest. The theme of a reminder of who God is, and who I am to God. And a desire to be a ready scribe to address my verses to my King.